TORONTO – Didn’t take Stephen Weiss long to make a good impression in his second rehabilitation attempt with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Over the past 30 months, Weiss has been haunted by various injuries, limiting the former first-round draft pick to 44 regular-season games since the end of the 2011-12 campaign. He's played one NHL game for the Red Wings this season, and just 27 regular-season contests since signing a five-year contract with the Red Wings prior to the start of last season.
Plagued by sports hernia and groin injuries, Weiss skated pain-free Friday night and scored a goal just 19 seconds into the game’s first shift, sniping a shot from the left face-off circle against the Lake Erie Monsters.
“It's a step in the right direction,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “So, it's a positive step, he'll play again (Saturday) and he'll be back (in Detroit).”
The Griffins’ report on Weiss was all good, Holland said.
Last month, Weiss went on a rehab assignment in Grand Rapids, but he didn’t make it into the third period of the game when he felt groin soreness and was return to Detroit.
“Given what’s gone on over last 16 months, it’s baby steps,” Holland said. “Last night he got through a game, feels good enough to get back at it tonight. I think when he was down there two weeks ago it wasn’t significant but it was significant enough that he hurt himself and couldn’t play the next game. So we’re back starting all over again.
“The other thing that we’re working on is he hasn’t played a lot of hockey the last two years, 2½ years. Last year he played (26) games. The 48-game season he played 17. December is on the horizon. That’s part of the reason we want him to go back and test his groin. We’re trying to find ways to get him some games because you need to play games. We’re trying to win games to compete with teams in our division. We can’t be holding tryouts during the season.”
Earlier this month, the coach Mike Babcock had planned on getting Weiss into the lineup during a three-game road trip that began in Buffalo Nov. 2. But Weiss experienced his setback days before the team was to depart.
Weiss will be in the lineup again for the Griffins, skating on a line with Anthony Mantha and Kevin Porter. But after that, the Wings will take a wait-and-see approach on Weiss.
“Lets’ see what happens tonight,” Holland said. “I know when we win games coaches are reluctant to make changes. So he’ll be back with the team. If Mike wants to put him in, Mike will put him in.”